Walking among dinosaurs has got to be everyone’s dream, right? Incredible ancient creatures believed to be the forbearers of the millions of types of species that exist today that come in all sizes. The PlayStation VR is a perfect portal to worlds such as these to give us the sense of being around these magnificent albeit scary animals. It’s the best we are ever going to get, unless you watch Jurassic Park a thousand times.
Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey is an ambitious take on this time period by transporting players to a planet inhabited by dinosaurs. As Robin with his mechanical helper, HIGS, our ship, the Esmerelda, inadvertently crash lands on Tyson III, a lush green planet laden with forestry and a whole host of aforementioned familiar looking locals. There is only one way to survive: find the rest of the HIGS units to establish the reason how the Esmerelda crashed and why. Whilst the narrative in Robinson: The Journey leaves a lot to be desired, the relationship between Robin and his newfound dino friend, a juvenile T-Rex affectionately named Laika, is what makes this story of discovery so special. Laika seems to take to Robin instantly despite HIGS’ constant disapproval.
Robinson: The Journey is more of a game than most PSVR titles. Using the controller, you move around in traditional first-person style which has been slowed down to nothing more than walking speed to combat motion sickness which has little effect, and I like to think I have a strong stomach. There is little guidance in Robinson: The Journey. No onscreen markers or way points. Instead you are left to explore, at your own leisure, the many luscious environments that look great on Sony’s sparkly headset. Overhead, flying types circle and patrol as a mechanical tower is visible in the distance which is just one of the many visual marvels you’ll find here. There’s a lot of mystery attached to Tyson III which can be partially revealed through scanning certain items and creatures using your trusty gadget’s scanning function. Scanning things, which requires you to vacuum up green spots whilst avoiding red ones, becomes a chore that is only deemed necessary if you’re interested in finding out facts and past events of which piece together to form the planet’s history or if you’re a completionist.
Climbing is another obstacle to overcome. A nauseating activity in itself. You look in the direction of the next ledge and press either R2 or L2, depending on left or right hand, to grip. It’s easy to get the hang of, but letting go means certain death which carries no penalty, allowing you to just respawn and carry on with your journey. Thankfully, Laika has functions too. You can feed her, direct her, instruct her to follow you or let out a menacing roar. During scripted moments you play a short game of hide and seek with Laika which usually tends to lead to a different discovery. She can help solve the many puzzles throughout the game, like at one point a stubborn “long neck” stood in my path surrounded by bubbling tar pits that would kill me if I dipped my toe in them. A roar from Laika made it move like a mouse to an elephant, that was once I stopped staring in awe at the impressive, towering beast.
Sadly, Robinson: The Journey is a limited adventure. Its over before it truly begins, padded out by figuring out the overly complicated tasks in order to progress. The main attraction here is the setting. A lush world of jungles with evidence of mechanical engineering everywhere. The aforementioned flying beasts overhead, towering long necks, and the many man-sized creatures that roam the planet bring Tyson III to life, making it feel like a living, breathing alternate version of Earth.
It looks fantastic on the PSVR. Possibly the best looking game to date. The way Laika runs around you and ventures off on her own little adventure at times is a nice touch. Another nice touch was finding a HIGS unit, and as I reached down to get it, a long neck snatched it away making me jump out of my skin and give off a little smirk thinking how much of a little rascal it was.
Platform: PS4 (PSVR)
Release Date: 27th October 2016